With relations between US and Israeli leaders plunging to an all-time low, US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appear to be employing a divide-and-conquer strategy to promote divergent agendas.
In the aftermath of a divisive election here, where Netanyahu’s disparaging rhetoric against Arab voters prompted Obama to question the essence of Israeli democracy, both leaders are turning to parochial constituencies to promote seemingly dissonant world views.
From the prospect of a secure Israel and a viable Palestine co-existing to this week’s interim deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama and Netanyahu are increasingly speaking past one another in attempts to sway allies and kindred political players to their respective policy goals.
After galvanizing support in Congress for additional sanctions on Iran, Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is scheduled to arrive here to assuage Israeli concerns of steadfast support on Capitol Hill, if not from the White House.
Boehner’s post-election visit — coined by local media here as a “victory lap” for Netanyahu — follows the March 3 end-run around Obama, when the Israeli leader exhorted a joint session of Congress against a “bad deal” with Iran.
“I think Netanyahu has given up on Obama and vice versa; Obama has given up on Netanyahu,” said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on American-Israeli relations at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies here.